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Posted: March 30, 2020

Naat’áanii Development Corporation Responds to

False and Misleading Statements About the Organization

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz (Navajo Nation), March 30, 2020 – The Naat’áanii Development provided the following official statement to correct false and misleading statements that mischaracterized the organization and its work.

Statement of the Naat’áanii Development Corporation

The Navajo Nation and the world are faced with extraordinary and unprecedented danger because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These times demand trust, unity, collaboration, communication, and verifiable facts, not divisiveness and blame. It also requires that we remain together and welcome all help and not reject any offers of support.


On Saturday March 28th false allegations were made by the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice-President (OPVP) against Naat’áanii Development Corporation (NDC)—a federal corporation wholly-owned by the Navajo Nation. NDC was established by the Navajo Nation Council in 2017 to create business opportunities and employment for the Navajo people. NDC is overseen by a Board of Directors made up of seasoned professionals with nearly two centuries of combined high-level experience. Members of our board are highly educated with advanced degrees that include PhDs, MBAs and CPAs. We are university educators, scientists, tribal businessowners, lawyer, accountant, a practitioner in traditional Navajo medicine, a physician in western medicine, and international corporate executives. We have business, law, health, education, and numerous other necessary experiences, plus being grounded in Navajo values. We also are truly connected to the mission of NDC because we know the long-term positive impact this organization will have on the Navajo Nation for generations to come.


As leaders of this organization we have not forgotten the wisdom imparted to all of us by our Navajo elders that during trying times we must work together hand-in-hand, Nizhonigo Ahil na’anish? Let us assure you, the Navajo Nation, that NDC leaders will not stand idle while falsehoods are spread about the organization and its leadership. We hereby set the record straight.


First, NDC understands that we must take COVID-19 seriously by testing quickly and widely, practicing social distancing, and complying with CDC recommendations. NDC in concert with Molina Healthcare has been working for several weeks to secure needed testing kits, medical and cleaning supplies, first aid kits and food care boxes. Fortunately, we are close to securing 5,000 coronavirus testing kits which will be provided to Indian Health Service facilities (IHS) on the Navajo Nation for their use. The testing kits will be provided to Navajo health facilities regardless of any opposition to NDC and Molina because it is the humane thing to do during this pandemic crisis. Molina Healthcare disclosed in a letter to President Nez on Friday, March 27th that Molina Healthcare team members have located medical supplies and food boxes and are working directly with tribal non-profit organizations to get these much-needed resources out to the most vulnerable members of the population. All of this has been accomplished through Molina Healthcare’s charitable foundation arm.


Second, the Navajo people must know that a fully functional Navajo Managed Care Organization (MCO) would be able to provide much more resources if the approval of the Navajo Nation Council’s legislation was followed through, but the recent OPVP veto is delaying us from immediately and fully accessing the much-needed additional resources. On March 18th President Trump signed the second COVID-19 Relief package that increased Medicaid funding to states by 6.2 percent. This action is estimated to inject nearly $40 million in Medicaid funding to the Navajo people, specifically for use in combating COVID-19. But without a Navajo MCO being fully approved by the Navajo Nation, those funds cannot be accessed and used to directly help the Navajo people. The Navajo Nation Council understands this reality.


It was erroneously stated in the recent OPVP news release that the Navajo MCO would create funding competition between Indian Health Services, 638 healthcare, and the Navajo MCO. This is false; rather, federal Indian health dollars and Medicaid funds are actually two separate sources of available healthcare funding. A fully operating Navajo MCO would potentially use the available Medicaid dollars to target the most vulnerable population impacted by the novel coronavirus. Had the Navajo MCO been supported by the OPVP, it would have been fully launched earlier, and we would have been in a prime position to fully assist in the effort in fighting COVID-19.


Finally, for nearly 14 months NDC leadership has asked at least 30 times to sit down with OPVP and coordinate efforts directly. Our requests were denied and ignored and no rationale for those decisions were ever provided. The Navajo Nation Council also has repeatedly requested for meetings with the OPVP, but once again, their invitations were rejected. On the other hand, the Council delegates and its various committees welcomed our invitations and met with us 17 times, which includes meetings with Naabik’íyáti’ Committee and the full Council. These meetings were public, with extensive and positive deliberations. NDC was subjected to extensive due diligence, research, independent review, inquiries including hard questions raised by the tribal healthcare entities, and a review of our business plan before they unanimously approved, through the Naabik’íyáti’ Committee, resolution NABIJA-06-20 on January 23, 2020, supporting the launch of the first Navajo Managed Care Organization in the U.S. On March 20th, the Council again passed legislation by a 21-0 vote requesting the State of New Mexico to move quickly to launch the Navajo Managed Care Organization in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic gaining strength.


Despite all our efforts and a being publicly slammed, we continue to be hopeful and optimistic to work with the OPVP just as we have successfully partnered with the Navajo Nation Council. When we acquire the full support we need to move forward, then we would have access to an estimated $40 million in services available at our disposal to combat COVID-19. This represents a massive amount of resources that would help prevent, detect and diagnose the novel coronavirus, and assist in quarantine efforts. Unfortunately, without a fully operating Navajo MCO, it is as though we are chopping wood with one of our hands tied behind our backs.


For the sake of our relatives and in our commitment to K’é, NDC has no intention of allowing itself to be dragged into a media war which accomplishes nothing but continue delaying emergency health benefits for our people. In the meantime, NDC will continue working with the Council and the State of New Mexico to launch the Navajo Managed Care Organization because we know that once we have access to these urgently needed resources we will be in position to help save lives. We will continue to pray and hope that soon we will have the Navajo MCO up and running to help our relatives beat the novel coronavirus.


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